Thanksgiving Service honours 34 years of self help centre’s work in the community

By GEM Community Correspondent in Local People

This year, the Sandville Self Help Centre at Ton Kenkig celebrated its 34th anniversary with a Thanksgiving Service at All Saints Church, Porthcawl.

The Sandville concept was started in 1983 by two Macmillan Sisters, Gwyneth and Rosemary. Views on how to deal with cancer patients were very different then to today’s thinking.

With love and concern, these two pioneering Sisters held monthly lunch sessions with cancer patients in the Sandville Hotel, Porthcawl, just to talk with them and share their problems.

From little acorns, a great oak has grown and continues to bear fruit. The reputation of the Sandville Foundation is known and respected throughout the world, as is that of its Founder, Sister Gwyneth Poacher.

This was the theme of the Address given at the Thanksgiving Service by Father Irving Hamer, former chaplain and trustee of Sandville.

His Address was followed by that given by Simon Morgan-Jones, the service manager responsible for covering the whole of the UK for nursing programme of the cancer charity ‘CLIC Sargent’.

Simon related that as a disillusioned student nurse of 18, he went to Court Colman and met Sister Gwyneth Poacher and was ‘converted’ by the work that was being carried on there.

He went away and from that time onwards, he became involved full time in caring for cancer patients.

Considering the conflict of the Thanksgiving Service with the Six Nations Rugby Championship, there was nevertheless a tidy congregation at All Saints Church.

This was reflected in a very generous plate collection of £300 for the Sandville.

The Service was conducted by the Rev Canon Philip Masson and musical accompaniment was provided on the Organ by Daniel Pugh-Bevan.

Following the Service, most members of the congregation went to Sandville Court for tea and light entertainment. The tea was laid on by Marilyn Beale and Dicky Doughnuts of Bridgend, and served by the Sandville students.

The anniversary cake was jointly cut by Father Irving Hamer, Danny Jones, formerly of the Sandville Hotel, together with Joyce Flower and Linda Knight, patients who were treated in the early days at the Sandville Hotel by Gwyneth and Rosemary.

A surprise visit was made by Victoria, who was six years old when her mother was one of the first cancer patients to be nursed by Gwyneth as a Macmillan Sister.

As usual, the entertainment was provided by The Hi Tide Scrubbers who gave a repeat performance of their successful act at the Hi Tide during the Twelfth Night fancy dress celebrations.

Following this hilarious entertainment, trustee Arthur Beale presented Sister Gwyneth Poacher with a cheque for a record £13,000 – the proceeds of Twelfth Night and events leading up to it.

Arthur thanked Francesca and Geoff Dower and staff at the Hi Tide, together with all those generous people who had supported him and helped to raise such a fabulous amount for the Sandville Foundation.

With the boot on the other foot, Sister Gwyneth Poacher presented Arthur with a large framed photograph of the Hi Tide Scrubbers doing their Sumo Wrestlers Act for the 30th Anniversary celebrations.

Smaller framed photographs were also given to each member of the team. Arthur expressed a little bit of doubt about hanging the large framed photograph in the fish restaurant as the well proportioned Sumo Wrestlers might not reflect well on his well portioned helpings of fish and chips!

Gwyneth concluded by paying thanks to Arthur, the Hi Tide Scrubbers, volunteers, businesses and everyone else, too numerous to mention individually, who had supported Sandville throughout the year and to the PCSOs who provide a round-the-clock surveillance of Sandville Court.

Report and photographs by Keith E Morgan

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